soul vs person/individual?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by shiningstar, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. shiningstar

    shiningstar Senior Member

    Recently I watched a movie called Flight starring Denzel Washington. In some point in the movie the pilot (D.W.) asks the flight attendant to bring him coffee, etc. When the flight attendant comes back to the cabin she gives the coffee to the pilot alongwith a manifest and says;

    " And the manifest with 102 souls on board."

    Now, what I want to know here is the difference or nuance between "soul" and "person/individual".
  2. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    My impression is that "souls" — being a little literary and old fashioned — may have been used jokingly. But I haven't as yet seen the movie, so I can't tell for sure.

  3. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    They mean effectively the same thing to me. I'd say that 'souls' is just a fancier way of saying 'individuals'. It might have been used for a humorous effect.
  4. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Yes, he's just being "cute" in his wording. I imagine that his character is playful in demeanor.
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    There is nothing cute, strange or archaic about U.S. aviation use of "souls on board" (SOB) to represent the number of living human beings aboard an aircraft.

    See, for example, this current document from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

    As to why that syntax is used, one can only speculate, just as we have had interminable discussions concerning SOS, posh and tip.
  6. shiningstar

    shiningstar Senior Member

    Thanks everyone for your kind replies :)

    @sdgraham, like you said, it didn't sound fancy or cute to my ears actually. In fact I got a feeling that this usage/word implicates the significance of human lives as a whole. It's just a feeling but I think it means or sounds something deeper than a mere "person/individual" can mean. Thank you very much :)
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  7. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Don't get caught up in such metaphysical nonsense. It's just aviation jargon.
  8. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    Good point. I guess it doesn't really have to be "cute" to be said. I've never really said it when taking my friends flying, but I do guess it makes sense on a commercial flight with many such souls. :)
  9. shiningstar

    shiningstar Senior Member

    Point taken :)
  10. velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    On the contrary, it dates back to the days of sailing ships. The new technology just took over the old usage.

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